NASA satellite observes damage path of april tornadoes

May 09, 2011 By Janet Anderson
Images of tornado damage near Tuscaloosa, Ala., seen on May 4, 2011. Credit: NASA

Recent images of the April 27 storm damage path have been captured by NASA's Terra satellite, part of NASA's Earth Observing Satellite system, or EOS. An instrument aboard Terra, called Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer or ASTER, captured the images show the scars from the outbreak.

ASTER combines infrared, red, and green wavelengths of light to make false-color images that distinguish between water and land. Water is blue. Buildings and paved surfaces are blue-gray. Vegetation is red.

The images to the right are from an observation that occurred on May 4, 2011 at 11:45 A.M. local time (1645 UTC), near Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The physical principle guiding the use of to detect tornado is based on the premise that the strong winds associated with a tornado will change the physical characteristics of the surface in such a way as to alter the visible and infrared energy reflected. These characteristics could be a change in the orientation of surface features, such as the complete destruction of a house in a residential area, the snapping of trees in a forest region, the uprooting of crops in an agriculture area, or minimal damage to grassland in a pasture or field.

Images from NASA satellites will aid in damage assessment, determining the tornado width and path length. Further scientific analysis using imagery is planned.

Terra/ASTER is a joint activity between NASA's Science Mission Directorate Earth Science Division and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Terra is one of 14 NASA satellites that look at the Earth to study and understand changes in the Earth system and provide societal benefits.

Explore further: Strong quake hits east Indonesia; no tsunami threat

Related Stories

NASA's ASTER Instrument Observes Haiti Quake Aftermath

Jan 18, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft captured this simulated natural color image of the Port-au-Prince, Haiti, area, ...

Fires Burning Near Big Sur, California

Jul 01, 2008

Fires near Big Sur, Calif., continued to burn unchecked when the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured this image on Sunday, June ...

New NASA Image Shows Extent of Station Fire Burn

Sep 09, 2009

On September 6, 2009, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured this simulated natural color image of the Station fire, burning ...

Recommended for you

Strong quake hits east Indonesia; no tsunami threat

18 hours ago

A strong earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Sunday evening, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, and authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami.

Scientists make strides in tsunami warning since 2004

Dec 19, 2014

The 2004 tsunami led to greater global cooperation and improved techniques for detecting waves that could reach faraway shores, even though scientists still cannot predict when an earthquake will strike.

Trade winds ventilate the tropical oceans

Dec 19, 2014

Long-term observations indicate that the oxygen minimum zones in the tropical oceans have expanded in recent decades. The reason is still unknown. Now scientists at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.